POSTED ON 11th, April, 2018
I don’t know who it was who said ‘life is too short to drink bad wine’ but I’d like to buy them a pint.
Wine is important and getting the wine right in a pub, in fact in life generally, is worth the effort. House wines in a pub are especially a test of the quality and style of the place you are in. I like them to be easy drinking, not too expensive and excellent quality.
It is this mission that led us down the route of importing our own wine. We get to choose exactly the wine we want, we can import it in bulk, sell it in good old fashioned carafes and it’s much cheaper for our customers than it would be if we asked a UK based importer to do the job for us. A bit of a win- win all round.
This is exactly what we have done. I don’t want to give too much away, or everyone will be doing it, but I tell you that we have had a really top flight buyer working for us and he, together with a decent French negotiant, sourced, blended and packaged the wine for us. We have devised and installed our own draught dispense system which, touch wood, seems to be working well. The whole thing rather reminds me of simple bar restaurants in 1960’s France when I was on holiday with my family (four boys, Mum and Dad). We would order a carafe of wine and Paul and Bruce, being the eldest, were allowed some while Fran and I had to have ours with water (I didn’t really like it).
I have just come back from the pub, having tasted our modern day equivalent from the tap for the first time since our UK based bottle tastings many months ago and I have to say I’m delighted. We have five wines, two reds, two whites and a Rose.
The entry level wines, a white, a red and a rosé will sell at £20 for a litre or £10 for half a litre -the latter of which we expect to be the most popular size. The white is a blend of Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc and Ugni Blanc (I’d never heard of it either – apparently prolific, important but nondescript) with a little Sauvignon Blanc to compensate for the richness of the 2017 vintage. The red is a Merlot, light and delicious and my favourite of the two reds. The rosé is Grenache, light, fresh, strawberry colour and strawberry flavours, perfect for drinking outside on our sunny courtyard.
We also have a more expensive red at £24 a litre and £12 for half a litre. It’s pure Syrah and typical of the grape. Darker and more powerful than the cheaper red, a much more serious wine. The more expensive white, at the same price, is 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Colombard but tastes like a pure Sauvignon, or at least it does to me. It is particularly good and will be a real winner with all the Sauvignon drinkers amongst us.
Our next task will be to keep the consistency. We have bought five pallet loads, so we’ll be OK for a while but when we re-order we want to have the same quality. All the bods concerned are convinced they can keep the same standard. I hope they are right. I tried importing wines once before, over 20 years ago and in bottles. We could not keep the consistency and in the end abandoned it. This time I have much better safeguards and greater expertise from better suppliers and buyers. Lets hope it works.
Of course we have a decent list of bottled wine too and have lent heavily on two of my favourite suppliers, Tanners from Shrewsbury who are a really first class family business and Boutinot from Cheadle, a much larger concern but still top quality. These are people we can rely on for excellent advice and we have put together a list we are proud of. Of course wine lists change and as the months go by we will be uncovering favourites from many different sources and adding them to those currently available.
Happy drinking. I’m really looking forward to hearing what you think of the draught wines. Jerry Brunning.